By DANIEL OFFNER
On Aug. 10, former Bronxville Mayor Sheila Stein died at age 76 after a battle with cancer.
Stein, a Republican, was first elected to the village Board of Trustees in 1987 and served six terms. She then set her sights on the state arena, running on the GOP ticket for state Assembly in 1994, a race she would lose.
A well-respected public servant, Stein is remembered throughout the village for her leadership and work in elected office. Current Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin, a Republican, said Stein was in constant contact with her and was a great asset to the village, where she lived for 40 years.
“She was the greatest mentor anyone could’ve asked for,” Marvin said. “She was an incredibly special lady, who truly loved the village.”
For Marvin, the most critical piece of Stein’s legacy while serving on the Board of Trustees arose from a situation more than two decades ago, when, one morning, residents awoke to find anti-Semitic graffiti had been spray-painted on the walls of the village’s underpass off of Pondfield Road,with a hateful message targeting three Jewish teachers at Bronxville High School.
In the immediate aftermath, Bronxville High School students and community members marched down Pondfield Road to express their disgust. According to Marvin, it was from the community’s outrage that Stein came up with the idea to create an Interfaith Council—comprised of officials from local religious organizations—with the goal of breaking down the prejudicial barriers within the community.
For more than 20 years, Stein met with community members to reflect on one of the worst consequences of prejudice in human history—the Holocaust. Under the administration of former Mayor Stein, in 1992, the Community Interfaith Holocaust and Human Rights Commemoration—a local event bringing people of all faiths together once a year with the goal of looking expectantly towards a vision of understanding and tolerance among all people—was created.
For Village Justice George McKinnis—Bronxville’s longest standing judge—Stein was an inspiration. McKinnis said, after working with Stein as a village volunteer, she was the one responsible for convincing him to run for the office of Village Justice, a role which he has served for the last 20 years.
While in office, Stein also co-founded the Bronxville Youth Council, first issued the study on the use of the Kensington Road property and was active in the Junior League of Bronxville and the Bronxville High School Council.
Rene Atayan, chairperson of the Bronxville GOP committee, said that while her paths would seldom cross with Stein, everyone regarded her as a bright, kind, strong and morally-centered woman.
“She had a bearing and dignity about her that was to be admired and respected,” Atayan said. “She will be greatly missed and I wish her family prayers and strength during this time.”
Originally hailing from Minnesota, Stein later moved to Texas with her late husband, Dr. Ralph Bowen, and worked as the director of women’s banking for River Oaks Bank and Trust. After Bowen’s death, Stein later married Dr. Martin Fritz Stein Jr. before moving to the village, over 40 years ago.
In addition to her work in public service, Stein served on the Board of Directors of the Family Consolation Service of Eastchester, the Westchester Holocaust Education Commission and St. Christopher’s Church.
Stein is survived by her husband, their six children and 14 grandchildren.